Trojans demolish Ellinwood despite illness, slow start
Four second-half turnovers help Hillsboro down Eagles, 32-6
If there’s a game on the Trojans’ schedule where they could afford a subpar performance, Friday night’s meeting with the visiting Ellinwood Eagles may have been it.
With barely 20 players on Hillsboro’s roster and only one consistent game-breaker, the Eagles have tough going just competing, let alone winning.
For 24 minutes they gave Hillsboro all it could handle as the Trojans’ game struggled as much as players did staying healthy last week.
Despite a sluggish first half, the Trojans, 3-0, managed to catch fire in the second half, forcing four Eagle, 1-2, turnovers — five on the night — en route to a 32-6 win.
“We had a lot of distractions before the game,” Trojan coach Max Heinrichs said. “We’re a sick bunch of kids right now, too. We just didn’t concentrate very well tonight and we made a lot of mistakes we haven’t made to this point.
“It’s good to get a win after we played the type of game we played tonight. It was a game of chess and I didn’t have the right calls a lot of the night.”
If there’s an ugly way to win the Trojans had the blueprint memorized as penalties, missed extra-point attempts and chances, and being out-of-synch offensively made for a lackluster night.
If the Eagles had another weapon besides do-it-all tailback Glenn Whitaker, Hillsboro could’ve been in real trouble.
Ellinwood was never able to benefit from good field position, starting all 13 of its drives on its side of the field and the Eagles spent the majority of the game in their own territory.
Whitaker still managed a team-high 131 yards, though, but the Trojan defense limited Ellinwood to 120 yards rushing and 198 total yards.
Hillsboro still grabbed the lead on its second drive with the help of an Ellinwood personal foul.
Chance Reece barreled his way into the end zone to put Hillsboro on top, 6-0, with 4:05 left in the first quarter as Ethan Frantz’s PAT kick was blocked.
The Trojans had a great chance to extend their lead early in the second quarter with Reece breaking free for a 23-yard score.
But it was called back for holding, bringing up a fourth-and-14.
Fresh off a career-best 245 yards and three touchdowns last week against Smoky Valley, Jacob Fish struggled to find his groove, throwing for a game-high 144 yards on 4-of-18.
Fish hit Jacob Edwards for a 27-yard gain to set up first-and-goal at the 9.
One play later, Tanner Ragan, who took it 99 yards for Ellinwood’s sole score, intercepted Fish.
Reece blocked the extra point to leave the score knotted at 6-6 with 7:52 left in the first half.
Outside of Whitaker, Hillsboro’s defense had no problems dissecting Ellinwood.
Eagle quarterback Kyle Corbett was sacked six times — half of them by Frantz, and two by Chris Schafer.
Reece had a career night, rushing for a game-high 145 yards, getting 29 on the Trojans’ final drive of the first half.
The Trojans had the Eagles doubled over at halftime, 12-6, with Fish airing it out for Ben Bebermeyer for a 45-yard score with just over 1:30 still left.
Hillsboro tried for a two-point conversion this time, but Fish’s pass was incomplete.
Ellinwood had one of its two best chances to cut into the lead right before halftime with Whitaker ripping off a 34-yard gain and a personal foul call on Hillsboro.
The Eagles’ drive stalled out at the Trojan 23 and Hillsboro clung to a 12-6 edge at the break.
“I asked our kids to come out the second half, get a good kickoff and let’s stick the ball in the end zone,” Heinrichs said. “Let’s start pinning our ears back and going on defense. They did those things.”
Things went from bad to worse for Ellinwood on the opening kickoff with Hillsboro starting on the Eagle 43.
Reece carried for 23 on the first play, and the Trojans were inside the red-zone.
After two more carries for Reece, Hillsboro had tripled the score with Reece taking it in from 18 before Frantz’s PAT woes continued on a wide right.
Ellinwood missed another chance at points, driving all the way to the Trojan 27 before turning the ball over on downs — the first of only two times the Eagles made it past midfield the second half.
Fish struck again, hitting Daniel Kunantaev for a 63-yard touchdown up the middle.
Frantz made good on the point, pushing the Trojan lead to 25-6 with 4:04 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles’ chances continued to wither away with only two of their six second-half drives lasting longer than three downs.
Those were all cut short, ending with Corbett completing passes to the Trojans. Two went to Bebermeyer, and Taylor Hagen and Corbin Hinson each had one.
Mistakes also hindered the Trojans with a drive fizzling out at the Eagle 24 and back-to-back turnovers.
Matt Yoder mailed the win in, scampering 65 yards down the Trojan sideline for the final touchdown.
Hillsboro exchange student Max Bertinchamp delighted the Trojans’ student section, putting through his first-ever PAT with 2:52 left in the game.
“We didn’t throw the ball well tonight. Our quarterback wasn’t as sharp as he has been,” Heinrichs said. “He’ll get there, but a bunch of our kids are sick. No excuses, though, our kids played well. They’re a good football team.
“Ellinwood had a big-play threat every time with No. 10 (Whitaker). He’s the best back we’ve seen.”
The Trojans up their home stand Friday, hosting the dangerous upstart Lyons Lions at a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Last modified Sept. 24, 2009